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3 tips on being mindful as a father

4 min read
being mindful

Being present and paying full attention to what is happening at any specific moment can be challenging. Becoming better at being mindful can help us as fathers become better dads to our family as well as a better role model to our children.

Happy Father’s Day to everyone that has the privilege of being a father! In our current pandemic environment, the pressures and stresses of parenthood, coupled with the mindset of trying to protect our loved ones can be frustrating. This frustration can distract fathers from being mindful and present with our children, and we lose focus on providing our kids with clear examples of coping with challenges, the environment and other teachable moments.

While we try to remember that we can only be responsible for our own actions, and that we cannot always command the external environment, there is some help to be gained from actively practising mindfulness. To explain simply, mindfulness is the basic human ability to be fully present, aware of where we are and what we’re doing, and not overly reactive or overwhelmed by what’s going on around us.

Here are some tips for fathers to deploy when we start to feel the frustration, or we cannot seem to stop overthinking or reacting to some trigger.

Meditate

No, we are not suggesting a change of lifestyle to meet the extreme conditions associated with being a monk. Instead, meditate to clear a little space for yourself, whether mentally or physically. There are many benefits relating to mediation including gaining a new perspective on a situation, or reducing negative emotions or generating kindness and, our favourite makes us more loving. With the current pandemic, as a family and being part of a community, acts of kindness can go a long way. These acts also reinforce positive habits we can share with our children.

To kick off a simple meditation session, start by finding someplace quiet and comfortable. Sit down, relax, don’t stiffen the spine, and allow your limbs (hands and legs) to find a natural position. Focus your eyes, whether open or closed, on the space just in front of you. Relax for a few minutes. Breath. Just breath in and out for a few moments. When you are ready, start focusing your gaze on an item in the room. Stand up slowly, stretch and enjoy the calmness.

If a thought occurs, recognise and acknowledge it but do not pursue it. You can go back to the thought when you are done with the session. Also, there’s no need to think about breathing or counting breaths. And finally, the duration is up to you. With new habits, build yourself up from a few minutes to as long as you want (or can afford to).

Find your child and reminisce with them about your first week or month together

Younger children really enjoy stories. Share with them your memories about their early childhood. This can be recollections about your first week together as a family, or their first steps or when their baby tooth fell out.

This activity can really help you focus on the present and be in the moment with your child. It strengthens the father-child relationship, demonstrates to them that you have always (and by inference are doing so) paid attention to them and provides the child the chance to have a conversation with you.

being mindful

Be realistic with yourself and stop overthinking the negatives

No new father ever tumbled out of bed knowing 100 percent how to be the best father in the world. We are always improvising based on our family culture and habits, learning by observation and sometimes just plain winging it.

(Pro tip: Wait for the mother figure to not be around before winging it. Otherwise, just search for a logical solution online or call another father friend for help.)

What does not help is to be unfair or overly critical about yourself, expecting that you should know how to handle every situation gracefully. It is also important not to overthink yourself into catastrophe, playing out the scenarios in your head to end badly.

Help yourself return back to the present with some meditation (see above). Just take a really deep breath and remind yourself that what has not happened, has not. You have as good a chance as any at making it turn out right.

From a habit perspective, get used to giving yourself compliments and repeating positive phrases. Positive self-talk (or make use of that constant voice in your head) can signal to yourself that you deserve respect for taking on an important role in life – that of being a father.

Being mindful can be a way of life and that has benefits that are evidence-based

All fathers can try practising being mindful. Being mindful can also bring some perspective and kindness to our daily lives. That helps remove some pressure and stress. There is no need to change your beliefs just to benefit from it and there are many proven benefits relating to our family, health, relationships, happiness and work.


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Photo by Steve Shreve on Unsplash and Photo by Lesly Juarez on Unsplash